We love certified organic and yet we can't say where our drinking water comes from.
I graze among a growing number of herbivores and carnivores that want to know the who/what/where/how/why of the food presented to us on a daily basis. Tulsa, with its deepening and broadening roots in the farm-to-table movement, is committed to all-things-local. This especially applies to juices, coffee, microbrews, whiskey and wine.
And yet, most of us do not know where our drinking water comes from. (No, it's not the Arkansas River.)
As an entrepreneur, it's fun to watch locals declare war against the empire. Armed with pick axes and hoes―literally―they are gaining ground all over town ... stealing market share from national and global food brands that more committed to promoting organic Cheetos than locally grown food.
Thanks to a small army of farmers, restaurant owners, and a bourgeoning flock of stone-cold foodies, Tulsa is evolving into a vibrant, sustainable slow food market that is slowing beginning to reject convenience. Because like grandma used to say, "Convenience my dear, is bullshit".
She didn't say that. But she would have if she saw the mess we've made.
Slow Food is the grassroots organization founded in Italy back in 1986 by Carlo Petrini. As the story goes, Carlo tried to prevent McDonald's from setting up shop in Rome. The movement spread worldwide promoting an alternative to fast food and advocates today still subscribe to the idea of preserving traditional and regional cuisine and encouraging the farming of plants, seeds, and livestock characteristic of local ecosystems.
As for Tulsa, Slow food is alive and well. One trip to the Cherry Street Farmers Market on a Saturday morning in July is all the proof you need.
Since you're now wondering where Tulsa gets its drinking water, it comes from three area lakes: Spavinaw, Eucha (pronounced "You-chee", rhymes with "Hoochie"!), and Oologah. This surface water flows hundreds of miles to water processing plants across Tulsa before it eventually arrives at your tap. Ranked as one the best large cities in the country for municipal water, it still rankles all kinds of people (for all kinds of reasons) because municipal leaders elected to use fluoride and chloramines to "clean" our water.
Here's the deal: most Tulsans (and most Americans), are conditioned to drink filtered water over tap water. Think about it. We've consumed truck loads of bottled water for the past two decades. So whether your a tap water OG who thinks the rest of us are pansies for drinking filtered water ... OR ... if you love the taste or feel of "natural" spring water (which by the way, requires tons of fossil fuels just to bottle and ship to you for your 20 minutes of "natural" enjoyment and hydration) ... this fact remains:
Filtered local city water is the cleanest, least expensive, and most sustainable water we have to drink.
I have a simple idea that tree huggers, health nuts, tightwads, and yes, even the strictest right wingers in town can agree upon. And it won't require most of us to change our behavior. Much.
Bottle your own water.
That's it. That's the idea.
If we all had access to clean drinking water, and we all carried reusable bottles, why would need to keep consuming expensive, heavy, inconvenient, pain-in-the-ass loads of bottled water?
Has it ever crossed your mind that the single-serve water bottle you last purchased at the convenience store was sold at the rate of $13/gallon? That's six-times the price of a gallon of gasoline. Does this sound drunk to you? It does to me.
And according to multiple government and environmental research sources, an estimated 500 million plastic straws are disposed of daily in the United States. That's more than 182 billion plastic pieces of solid waste littering our streets, clogging our landfills, and choking our streams, rivers, lakes and coastlines. So why we're at it, can we all start refusing plastic straws, too?
Reusable food-grade stainless steel and glass straws are easily accessible and affordable ... as are reusable cups and grocery bags. And please, for the love of beautiful and ugly children alike, do not get me started on Styrofoam. These cups, plates and food packaging in Tulsa needs to go away. Right now. And I and other entrepreneurs are working on a perfect, sustainable alternative in the works to replace it.
So ... Slow Water. Can you feel it?
About the Edible Tulsa contributor: Noah is the Founder and Chief Bottle Washer at The Water Co, located at the Boxyard. He is on a mission to improve Tulsa's health and habitat, one reusable bottle of clean water at a time.